Drug Facts and Effects

American Screening Corp. wants to ensure that you have a place to find the answers to all your drug testing questions. To that end, we provide information on the six legal and prescription drugs most commonly abused:

  • Amphetamines
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Methadone
  • Oxycodone
  • Tricyclic Antidepressants (TZA)

Amphetamines – Amphetamines stimulate the central nervous system and are one of many “club” drugs because of their ability to boost confidence. The effects of amphetamine usage include feelings of euphoria, wakefulness and restlessness. The psychological effects of long-term amphetamine abuse are similar to schizophrenia with bouts of aggression. Withdrawal from amphetamine abuse is not physically dangerous. It is, however, extremely unpleasant and often drives addicts to take more of the drug.

Barbiturates – Barbiturates are depressants of the central nervous system originally produced for sedation. Abusers of barbiturates claim to have similar feelings to being intoxicated including being more social and general good humor. Overdosing on barbiturates can produce confusion and uncontrollable emotional outbursts. Barbiturates can be lethal if consumed at 10 to 15 times the prescribed dosage. Examples of barbiturates are: Seconal, Nembutal, & Phenobarbital.

Benzodiazepines – Benzodiazepines are a family of depressants that affect the central nervous system. Under trade names such as Ativan, Librium, Valium, and Xanax, they are prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, and for the prevention of muscle disorders. Flunitrazepam (rohypnol), a benzodiazepine illegal in the U.S. and known as a “roofie” can be mixed in a victim’s drink to cause disorientation and has been used in sexual assault. High doses of these drugs, when mixed with other depressants, can cause death.

Methadone – Methadone is a synthetic opiate drug used to help treat addiction to other opiates, such as heroin. The proper dose of methadone will not only decrease the physical appetite for heroin, it also blocks the effects of other opiate drugs. As with all opiates, frequent use of methadone can build up tolerance and dependence. While still unpleasant, withdrawal from methadone is less severe then heroin or morphine withdrawal. Methadone withdrawal does, however, last much longer.

Oxycodone – Oxycodone is a synthetic opiate drug normally prescribed to treat post-operative pain. It is often mixed with other analgesics such as acetaminophen and aspirin to create Percocet and Percodan. Like heroin and morphine, oxycodone produces a feeling of euphoria and is addictive when taken in larger doses then what was originally prescribed. Because it has often been abused by people in the southern United States, it has often been referred to as “hillbilly heroin.”

Tricyclic Antidepressants (TZA) – TZAs were developed in the 1950s to treat depression and have been used since to treat a wide variety of ailments including migraines, insomnia, and irritable bowel syndrome. They have also helped with nicotine addiction. Tricyclic antidepressants are lethal when taken in excess, and due to the fine line between a therapeutic and a toxic dose, it is very easy to overdose.

We also provide information on the six illegal drugs most commonly abused:

  • Cocaine
  • Ecstasy (MDMA)
  • Marijuana (THC)
  • Methamphetamine
  • Opiates
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

Cocaine – Cocaine is obtained through the leaves of the coca plant and acts as a central nervous system stimulant and appetite suppressant. Cocaine users experience a feeling of euphoria and heightened energy. The most popular method of using cocaine is snorting into the nostrils. It can, however, also be smoked or injected. Symptoms of withdrawal that include insatiable hunger, stomach pains and sleep disturbances are not pleasant, but they are not physiologically dangerous.

Ecstasy – Technically MDMA, this is a 3-4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine that was originally produced in 1912 as a chemical used in a drug to help stop the bleeding from wounds. MDMA became known as ecstasy in the 1980s where it was used in dance clubs and all night raves. Ecstasy gives the user a feeling of euphoria, love and happiness with an increased appreciation of club music. A common side effect is jaw clenching and rapid pulse. Ecstasy has joined cocaine, heroin and marijuana in the top four most popular illicit drugs.

Marijuana – Its name drawn from the Mexican Spanish marihuana, marijuana is the dried leaves and flowers of the hemp (cannabis) plant. It is used as a psychoactive drug and as medicine. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (?9-THC) is the major psychoactive chemical in marijuana. Dried leaves are rolled into cigarettes called joints, smoked in small pipes or in larger water pipes called bongs. The drug may also be mixed into food such as brownies and eaten, or even brewed as a tea. The effects of marijuana can last several hours and impair reaction time and motor skills. In 2012, experts at Dalhousie University in Canada reviewed nine studies of more than 49,000 people involved in accidents on public roads involving one or more motor vehicles and concluded that someone high on marijuana was twice as likely to have a car wreck as other drivers.

Methamphetamaines – Methamphetamines are psychostimulant drugs that cause feelings of euphoria. Often, the user will begin compulsively repeating the same task. Over time, chronic use of methamphetamines can result in weight loss and tooth loss (aka “meth mouth”). When injected or smoked, methamphetamines are more addictive then when taken orally because the level of the drug in the blood rises faster by these methods. Withdrawal is very intense and often causes a relapse in addiction.

Opiates – Formed from the immature seeds of poppy plants, opiates are used to make morphine – a legal prescription medication – and heroin, an illegal drug used for recreational purposes. Opiates produce a feeling of euphoria and relaxation and with even a little use a tolerance can be built up that makes it necessary to use more of the drug to create the same feeling. This results in ever-increasing dosages. Opiates like heroin have extremely painful withdrawal symptoms that occur within hours after the last dose.

Phencyclidine (PCP) – Phencyclidine most commonly goes by the names PCP or “angel dust.” It is classified as a disassociative drug. People that use phencyclidine experience uncontrolled mania, hallucinations, and delirium. The usual method of PCP ingestion is by spraying it onto the leaves of marijuana and then smoking it. Studies have suggested that PCP causes a certain type of brain damage, however, studies are at this point inconclusive.

Also, to help you in staying current on drug vernacular, we provide a list of street slang used for the different types of illicit and prescription drugs and the category in which each slang term fits.Click here for that page.